Running a triathlon is not something you can decide on a whim. This is a challenging event that takes months of careful preparation for an experienced triathlete and beginner triathlete alike.
As you go into training, you have to notice every little thing about your body. From what you eat to how often you train and how well you sleep, small daily habits are what add up to success on the day-of.
This may sound like a lot to take on. But, triathlon training can actually be more simple than it seems! You just need to do a little bit of research beforehand and practice patience with yourself along the way.
To get started on the right foot and finish the course strong, follow the tips below.
1. You Need a Detailed Plan
Just like any other goal in life, you need a plan in order to make the dream of completing a triathlon a reality. The first part of the plan is to understand a regular weight training routine won’t do.
Triathlon training should be broken down into each part of the course: swimming, cycling, and running. These course components challenge a specific set of muscles in the body. But, you can’t afford for any part to wear out as you progress through the course’s three sections.
As such, training should develop in the water, on your bike, and on foot over time. Begin with basic stroke movements while swimming and steady terrain while biking and running. Then, start to push yourself with longer distances and more challenging conditions.
A beginner triathlete training plan can begin as early as six months to a year in advance. The more time you give yourself, the better, and remember to include dieting goals and rest days in your plan. Budget money for gear and give yourself time to break in certain items as well.
2. Create Diet Adjustments
Training is more than just exercise. You can’t train day in and day out without the right fuel. Not to mention, when the day of the triathlon comes, you won’t make it very far unless you’ve eaten the right things up until this moment.
The good news is you don’t have to throw away all the junk food in your kitchen at once. You can ease into better eating habits as your training progresses. Plus, this gives you time to find the right macros and supplement needs to support your training.
Macros are the three major nutrients in everyone’s diet – carbs, fats, and proteins. These are what store energy for each training session and help you recover afterward. But, there are certain micronutrients and supplements that help the body get everything it needs.
3. Account for Nutrition on the Course
As you’re planning diet changes and getting used to how your body feels during training sessions, start thinking about the triathlon course itself. You’re going to need more than water to keep you going.
Many experienced triathletes know the key to improving their race times comes down to nutrition. They bring everything from granola bars to trail mix and special performance gummies/liquids for a boost of energy on the course.
Try out a few different options as your training sessions get longer and more intense. This gives you plenty of experience with your on-course nutritional items of choice before the big day.
4. Find the Right Triathlon Gear
Speaking of course necessities on the day-of, make sure you have the right gear ready to go. Don’t be the beginner triathlete who thinks all they need are athletic clothes, a bike, goggles, and running shoes.
Triathlon gear includes everything from the right helmet to a swim cap and biking gloves to full-body athletic garments made for all the course’s conditions. You don’t need to purchase every single triathlon accessory out there, but you should educate yourself on what’s available.
Once you find the tools you’d like for race day, purchase them as soon as you can. This gives you a chance to break in things like shoes and gloves for ultimate comfort. It’s also an opportunity to incorporate your triathlon gear into each training session, which will make all your movements feel more natural on race day.
5. Try Different Tools and Training Styles
To be as prepared as possible for the course, you have to think about training from a unique standpoint. There are many opinions out there on which bikes and shoes are the best, and which training styles provide the best results. You have to find what works for you.
Don’t be afraid to try a different pair of shoes or test a few bikes before you commit to purchasing one. If you start to feel stagnant in your workouts or you’re not seeing any progress, challenge yourself in a different way. Small adjustments here and there could mean huge time differences on the actual course.
6. Changes Will Happen
Some training changes will be thoughtful choices you’ve accounted for and plan out. Others will happen at the drop of a dime.
If it’s raining too hard to go for a bike ride, for example, you may need to take your cycling indoors on an electric bike. If you get sick during training or go on vacation, you’ll need to adjust dieting and training accordingly.
Not to mention, advancing your training will throw some curveballs your way. One of the hardest things for a beginner triathlete to take on is bricking. Bricking is the triathlon term for going from one movement to another – i.e. from swimming to cycling or cycling to running.
These training sessions will exhaust you at first. They will leave you sore and push you to your limits, all so you can recover and push yourself even further.
7. Remember Training Is Physical and Mental
Whether you’re just beginning your triathlon training or you’re in the final days before the race, always remember to keep your mind sharp. The physical tests are nothing compared to the mental challenges an athlete faces.
There will be times when you consider canceling your participation in a race altogether. There will be days when you don’t want to train and training sessions that just don’t feel right. But, you have to keep going.
Focus on pushing past the mental exhaustion just as much as you push your physical limits.
Success as a Beginner Triathlete
The key to success as a beginner triathlete is to get started. You have to commit your mind to the thought of conquering the course, then make the sacrifices to get to the finish line.
You’ll have to wake up earlier or cut back on socializing a bit in order to train. Your eating habits will have to change and your muscles are about to feel sorer than ever. But, at the end of the day, it will all be worth it once you look back and recognize what you’ve accomplished!
For more tips and tricks to prepare, click here.